Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Residents pan new Montgomery County snow plow tracker, fake news on sidewalks

The new Montgomery County "snow portal" touted by County Councilmember Hans Riemer and other officials got a failing grade from residents I spoke to, and on social media, after yesterday's storm. Not only is there no longer a map to view snow operations countywide, or even in your area, but the consensus opinion was that the time estimates were no more useful than the old map. Not to mention that switching to a primitive text format, instead of a graphic map, was like going from iPhone to DOS.
Constituent gives Councilmembers
Hans Riemer and Roger Berliner his
blunt assessment of their new "snow portal"
on Facebook
Riemer provided some additional fake news about his sidewalk shoveling bill, which cost taxpayers $6,458,000, but came up even shorter than the snow portal. In a blog post, he boasted that since the bill passed two years ago, "I find that the County is doing a much better job clearing snow from sidewalks where the County (or Parks) is the responsible party as well as helping clear snow from sidewalks where there may be a public safety concern."

"It's just as useless
as past versions. #FAIL"

This is simply not true, as I well-documented last winter. On Westbard Avenue alone, sidewalks fronting both Montgomery County (Little Falls Library) and Montgomery County Public Schools (Westland Middle School) property remained unshoveled a full month after the largest storm. Embarrassingly, Riemer himself passed by these very sidewalks after the storm on a carpetbagger's bus tour for the Westbard sector plan, and took no action to get them cleared.
What happened?
Riemer's claim earns him the Four Pinocchios/Pants-on-Fire awards.

Friday, March 10, 2017

New small business group to host networking event for MoCo restaurant owners March 22

The Montgomery County Small Business Action Network, a new organization encouraging Montgomery County small business owners to be proactive on county government actions that impact their businesses, is concentrating on restaurant owners this month. SBAN will host a networking event for restaurant and bar owners on Wednesday, March 22, from 5:30-7:30 PM, at Hunter's Bar and Grill, located at 10123 River Road in Potomac.

The guest speaker at the event will be Bob Dorfman, the newly-appointed Director of Montgomery County's Department of Liquor Control. Dorfman will remain after his presentation to answer restaurant owners' questions one-on-one. The cost to attend is $25. For $35, you can attend and also become a member of SBAN. There will be a cash bar during the event.

RSVP by email, as space is limited for the event.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Legal immigrants turn out in force to oppose sanctuary bill in Annapolis (Photos)

A House of Delegates bill that would officially designate Maryland a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants ran into opposition from legal immigrants Tuesday, who waited out an epic public hearing that lasted until the early hours of Wednesday morning. The House Judiciary Committee convened at 1:00 PM for an agenda that included a hearing on the "Trust Act," HB 1362. Chair Joseph Vallario (D - District 23B) appeared to stall the hearing in an attempt to wear out citizens who had traveled far to testify, not taking up the bill until 7:00 PM.
Legal immigrants who testified
against HB 1362 are joined by
Silver Spring resident Hessie Harris
(center) and Del. Deb Rey (R - District 29B)
Dozens of citizens spoke in opposition to the bill, including 35 legal immigrants organized by the Maryland Chinese-American Network and Asian-American GOP coalition. Speakers also included Hessie Harris, an African-American woman from Silver Spring.

Some of those testifying questioned the fairness of exempting those who did not come here legally from the law. "I love Montgomery County," testified Shawn Nie of North Potomac. "I legally obtained my citizenship through a lengthy and expensive process." 

Others warned of public safety consequences, should the bill pass. "Sanctuary policies essentially create an environment where criminals can go unnoticed,” said Zhenya Li, also from Montgomery County. "Restricting law enforcement risks public safety."

Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Dick Jurgena called the marathon hearing "one for the record books," and praised those who stayed until midnight and beyond to testify despite the wait. 

HB 1362 is among several legislative efforts to codify sanctuary policies in Maryland, Montgomery County and the City of Rockville currently proposed. Police in Montgomery County are already not allowed to inquire about a person's citizenship status, even without this bill.

Proponents of the policy, and this bill, say the community is safer when undocumented immigrants don't fear interaction with the police. Opponents point to several horrifying crimes that have occurred within the last year, which have been tied to illegal immigrants.

In April 2016, Montgomery County Police arrested two illegal immigrants living in a County Housing Opportunities Commission apartment in Wheaton. The men were charged with abducting a 12-year-old girl, and gang-raping her in that taxpayer-subsidized apartment.

Just last month, 15-year-old Gaithersburg resident Damaris Alexandra Reyes Rivas was found dead in Fairfax County. Her mother told police she had become involved with MS-13 gang members at Watkins Mill High School, before disappearing December 10. Fairfax County police say Reyes Rivas was held prisoner by the gang before being assaulted in an undisclosed fashion, and was executed by them around January 8. Her remains were found in an industrial park on February 11.

After the Judiciary Committee issues a favorable or unfavorable report on HB 1362, it will return for a second reading on the House floor, and consideration for amendments by delegates.

Photos: Xiaoyuan Luo/World Journal

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Moribund economy, MCPS declining, roads jammed; MoCo Council's top priority? Vending machines!

Moribund Montgomery County is the only DC-area jurisdiction to suffer a net loss in jobs since the year 2000. The County Council's own reports show Montgomery County Public Schools in a steady decline since 2010, with a growing achievement gap and deadly gang problem. Our unfinished highway system is in utter gridlock, nearly 20 years after voters elected the laughably-named "End Gridlock" council slate. What is the very top agenda item this week for one of that slate's members, George Leventhal?

"Healthy vending machines."

You can't make this stuff up, folks! That's right, Leventhal and...surprise, surprise...Councilmember Hans Riemer will be in the 3rd Floor Conference Room of the County Council Building this morning, for a big press conference to introduce a bill to replace your Big Texas Cinnamon Roll and Mrs. Freshley's Jumbo Honey Bun with bean sprouts and kale chips. The bill will apply to all vending machines on county property, and require 65% of vending machine items to be "healthy."

If you need to kill some time around 11:45 AM, get some cheap entertainment in watching to see if even one reporter asks them how in the world vending machines could literally be their top priority at a time like this. Are you kidding me?

Slightly less than two years after touting a study showing Montgomery to be the healthiest county in Maryland, and giving himself credit for the designation, Leventhal now claims in a press release that "almost one in four children in Montgomery County is not able to maintain a healthy weight. This rate outpaces the national average. More than half of all adults in County (sic) adults (sic) are not keeping a healthy weight."

So let's get this straight, folks. Mr. Leventhal and the Council made us the healthiest county in Maryland (and probably invented the Internet along the way). That past claim of credit now requires us to blame the same County Council for our sudden, supposed two year plunge in health, that Mr. Leventhal says has left us fatter than the average American. How could they have done this to us? All the more reason to throw the bums out in 2018.

Of course, maybe it was the taxpayer-funded gift cards Leventhal's "Healthy Montgomery" organization gave out to MCPS students for sugary, liquid-candy Starbucks coffees and fat-and-sodium-laden Chipotle burritos that can partly be blamed. Perhaps the historic tax increase of May 2016 forced cash-strapped residents to turn to cheap junk food for subsistence purposes. After all, we can't all afford to shop at Whole Paycheck like Hans Riemer.
You apparently can use the hashtag #HealthyVendingMoCo to tell Big Government what you think of their legislative priorities.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Email/call delegates NOW after unusual tactic keeps MoCo Council term limit-sabotage bill alive in Annapolis

Thanks to your calls and emails, and members of a committee who recognized the voting landscape has changed in Montgomery County, House Bill 348 (which would hand the Montgomery County Council a suite of tools to subvert the term limits passed by 70% of voters last November) was temporarily dead yesterday. But in an unusual move, the full delegation failed to respect the vote of their colleagues on the Economic Development Committee, and have kept HB 348 on their voting agenda for today.

Light up their phones and inboxes, and ask them to respect the will of the voters, and KILL BILL 348 by voting NO. The meeting starts at 10:00 AM, so the time to act is NOW.

Use this list of phone numbers and emails, or the email list below (just CC everybody on one message to get the job done):

craig.zucker@senate.state.md.us
anne.kaiser@house.state.md.us
eric.luedtke@house.state.md.us
pam.queen@house.state.md.us
brian.feldman@senate.state.md.us
kathleen.dumais@house.state.md.us
david.fraser.hidalgo@house.state.md.us
aruna.miller@house.state.md.us
susan.lee@senate.state.md.us
bill.frick@house.state.md.us
marc.korman@house.state.md.us
ariana.kelly@house.state.md.us
cheryl.kagan@senate.state.md.us
kumar.barve@house.state.md.us
jim.gilchrist@house.state.md.us
andrew.platt@house.state.md.us
richard.madaleno@senate.state.md.us
asolgut@gmail.com
jeff.waldstreicher@house.state.md.us
roger.manno@senate.state.md.us
bonnie.cullison@house.state.md.us
benjamin.kramer@house.state.md.us
marice@maricemorales.com
will.smith@senate.state.md.us
sheila.hixson@house.state.md.us
david.moon@house.state.md.us
jheanelle.wilkins@house.state.md.us
nancy.king@senate.state.md.us
charles.barkley@house.state.md.us
kirill.reznik@house.state.md.us
delegaterobinson@gmail.com

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Contact delegates TODAY to stop MoCo Council's attempt to undermine term limits

As I reported last week, a bill that would give the Montgomery County Council several tools to undermine the term limits on their time in office is under consideration in Annapolis. HB 348 would the first step toward allowing the Council to stagger its terms, with some County Council seat elections moving to presidential years. Term limits passed overwhelmingly last November with nearly 70% of voters approving them. The County Council should not disrespect the voters' wishes for new leaders, and for a four-year cooling-off period for long-stagnant members who will finally be forced out.

Potential abuses the current text of the bill would allow include extension of term-limited councilmembers' terms for an additional two years, cutting short terms of new councilmembers they'd like to get rid of by two years, allowing those forced out by term limits in 2022 to run again in 2024 before the new Council has even four years to change the county's direction, and moving seats not as favorable to the county political cartel (District 2) to presidential years, when voters are paying less attention to county-level issues.

The Montgomery County delegation's Economic Development Committee will take up, and vote on, the bill tomorrow, Thursday, February 23.

CALL OR EMAIL THEM TODAY,
and tell them to respect the voters' clear decision on term limits, and allow the reforms voters wanted to happen play out. The voters have not asked for this bill, some on the Council have.
Ask them to vote "no" and 
KILL BILL HB 348:

Ariana Kelly, Chair - Democrat, Legislative District 16; Phone: 301-858-3642 / 410-841-3642;
ariana.kelly@house.state.md.us

Maricé Morales, Vice-Chair - Democrat, Legislative District 19; Phone: 301-858-3528 / 410-841-3528
marice.morales@house.state.md.us

Sheila Hixson - Democrat - Legislative District 20; Phone: 301-858-3469/410-841-3469 
Sheila.Hixson@house.state.md.us

Anne Kaiser - Democrat Legislative District 14; Phone: 301-858-3469/410-841-3469
Anne.Kaiser@house.state.md.us

Kirill Reznik - Democrat, Legislative District 39; Phone: 301-858-3039 /410-841-3039
kirill.reznik@house.state.md.us

Jeff Waldstreicher - Democrat, Legislative District 18; Phone: 301-858-3130 / 410-841-3130
Jeff.Waldstreicher@house.state.md.us

Then the whole delegation will take up the bill on Friday.

(carbon-copy every Montgomery County delegate if you can) 
BEFORE FRIDAY
Tell them to VOTE NO on HB 348

for their 
contact information

Thursday, February 16, 2017

MoCo Council got an average of $2469 in free gas last year - - from you

How would you like $2469 in free fill-ups at your local gas station (assuming it isn't being torn down by the Montgomery County Council and Planning Board)? You'll have to run for the County Council to get it.

According to Arelis Hernandez of the Washington Post, Montgomery County Councilmembers averaged $2469 each in free gas in 2016, paid for by you, the taxpayer. Nice.

This is the same Council whose members, thanks to a 17.5% raise they gave themselves at your expense a few years ago, will each be paid an astonishing $136,258 this year. By you.

Free gas is just par for the course, for our corrupt County Council, who - by the way - are running a structural deficit every year, and raised your taxes to historic heights last May. It seems they're only good at numbers when they're figuring out how much money they can get out of you.

The Bell, California City Council did this, too. They're in the slammer right now. Montgomery County's Council? Still on the street, and still on the take.